As a child grows, two important skills developing are listening and reading comprehension are two important skills. Listening comprehension (understanding spoken words) happens early in life and should be nurtured in early elementary. This is distinct and separate from reading comprehension. As we know from The Simple View of Reading, listening comprehension is one of the factors to obtain reading comprehension.
When students struggle to comprehend text, it is important for teachers to identify the source of the problem. Here are some reminders:
- If students comprehend text read orally, typically the cause of miscomprehension would be inadequate word recognition skills (phonemic awareness, phonics). Students will struggle with reading comprehension if they are unable to read the words. Instruction in phonology will be important.
- Lack of vocabulary knowledge may be another source of miscomprehension. If the academic language within the text is complex, students may struggle to understand specific words in the text. Teaching morphology, as well as word-learning strategies, will be key.
- Lack of background knowledge is another source of miscomprehension. If a student has no prior knowledge about a topic, it will be much more difficult to comprehend the information. Providing as much real-world exposure while in the classroom is important (videos, pictures, discussions, etc.).
- Figurative language is another source of miscomprehension. The literal meaning of words or phrases versus the accepted meaning of words or phrases can be difficult to understand, especially for struggling readers and/or ELL students.
When a student struggles with reading comprehension, it’s important to identify the cause of the problem so that teachers can adequately remediate the problem.